Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Change of perspective on the sleep thing

Thank you all so much for your comments the last time I had a moan about the sleep.

Rebecca, it was something you said that started shifting my thinking.

That, plus chats to two real life friends.

Rebecca said there is always someone jealous of you, the same way you envy someone else's situation.
Which to me talks about perspective.
LauraC also said that you have to think of sleep in terms of the good nights AND the bad nights, and look at the average. True!

As I've said before, I always thank God first of all that I have babies and that my babies are healthy and don't have any health problems despite being born so early.

My friend's child, M, had to have additional brain scans and her results have now been sent to the top children's hospital in South Africa. We spoke today and she told me she's scared out of her mind.

That's when I think, "so what if we have to get up a couple of times a night?"

Now here's the real AHA moment.
My friend with the good sleepers told me her twin babies wake around 5 - 5:30.

Another friend told me that's when both of hers used to wake too (not twins, but two years apart) and it "might be unreasonable" of me to expect mine to sleep from 5 - 5:30 pm to 7 am.

Don't you love tactful people?!

(By the way, this is an old, old primary school friend who found me on Facebook. We haven't seen each other since we were 12, which is 23 years ago. When I worked it out I felt really, really old)


It suddenly dawned on me.

I'm expecting these babies to sleep a stretch of 14 hours - I am a crazy woman!

Now 5 am still doesn't suit our lifestyle (!) especially on weekends but I will settle for 6 am.

And when I went back through The Notebook to analyse it in light of this revelation, I noticed that the last wake-up is normally around 5:30 - 6 am.

So if I adjusted my expectations to 6 am instead of 7 am, the babies wake up one time less 95% of the time.

Where I've been saying Kendra's waking up 3 - 4 times, it's actually 2 - 3 times, and Connor mostly only wakes up once.

Wow. Sometimes I'm really slow.

To answer some of your questions:
  • We do have a fan in their room because it is summer in Jhb and we have extremely hot, dry summers here. So most nights they go to sleep with the fan's white noise which does help.
  • They now have a bedtime routine. We bath them earlier but I do have a routine - close curtains, change nappy, put on leggings, offer bottles (C won't even have 5 ml if he's not hungry - he got that self-control from his father; K will often have a whole extra bottle), put on music (Majors for Minors), kiss and put in cots, tuck in with blankets, I love you's and then we leave the room.
  • Connor is the better sleeper, during the day and at night. He sleeps about 5 hours during the day and Kendra about 4 hours. There's usually one two-hour nap and then shorter ones. I classify the day as between 7 and 7.
  • They sleep in separate cots but in the same room and yes, Kendra disturbs Connor. We RUN to their room (as fast as our old bones will take us) when we hear her cry out because we don't want him to wake. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
  • With the onset of summer, we found they were waking early (4:30) so we now attach blankets to their curtains every night and that keeps them sleeping longer too.
  • One morning Connor woke at 5:30, I distracted him with a water bottle and change of nappy successfully for another hour and then was very happy to start his day and feed him. Felt very proud of myself :)

So where do we go from here?
  1. I am a girl who loves a plan so the plan is to CIO with one baby at a time. What I'm really scared of is this: what if they're really hungry and I deprive them of food?

  2. I can't wait for my mother to leave (!) so I can try this "crying it out" business. She thinks we're cruel if we leave the kids to cry a bit - I'm of the opinion that a bit of crying doesn't harm anybody. Also, I want to use two bedrooms so I need my guest bedroom back. I think two babies crying at the same time will be way too traumatic for me.

  3. I will not ask anybody how their kids are sleeping unless they bring it up in conversation and it'll be rude to do otherwise. It just makes me crazy and I don't need more crazy in my life.

  4. I will believe the best of my children - I'm sure they're doing their very best, poor things, and they don't need any more pressure put on them.

  5. I will stop obsessing about what I'm doing or not doing - evidence shows me I can do the exact same thing and one will sleep better than the other - and really try not to be hard on myself :)

All that said, I do hope and pray that the sleep fairy visits so that our kids find their sleep groove soon.

Any sleep tips and comments are always very welcome so if you think something you do works well for your child/ren, please share. I've now started getting emails behind the scenes from other moms about the sleep issues. Of course I know nothing so I depend on all your wisdom :)

P.S. This is my post for the 30-minute blog challenge


  1. I love your tag "lack of sleep". Hee! You are right about 14 hrs - I think 11-12 hrs at night is great, especially if they are sleeping 4-5 hrs during the day. I also fully support the "black out" shades you have done makeshift with blankets. My only tiny bit of advice is that CIO is painful and there will be times in the future when one kid wakes up because of illness, teething, general grumpiness, etc. so I would suggest you do the CIO for both at the same time in the same room. Yes, Kendra will wake Colin up just like Ned woke Penny up. But you know what - they got used to each other and Penny fell back to sleep well before the 1.5 hrs that it took for Ned to understand we weren't coming in. [He was "broken" in 3 days, but do be prepared to start your day at 6:00 am.]

    Also, if it makes you feel better we did CIO even though Penny was failure to thrive and severly underweight. For Ned he ate 30+ ounces a day (I didn't do conversin, sorry) and was eating jarred food/cereal 2x a day so I wasn't worried about him needing to eat. It can become a routine/comfort instead of a nutritional need. We did CIO at 5 months, for what it is worth.

    It is painful though so don't torture yourself with doing it once per kid and then having to do a third time when they are back together again. Good luck!! And report back!

  2. I have to agree with Mommy Esq. We did it at the same time and it was nice to be DONE with CIO. Plus the illnesses, teething, sleep regressions, it is hard to be on pins and needles worrying about them disrupting each other.

    And also I think ALL the sleep books say 11-12 hours the maximum for nightime sleep so if they are naturally waking at 5:30-6, I would suggest you adjust their bedtime appropriately... maybe try 6:30? My boys slept from 7-6 (Nate) and 7-5:30 (Alex).

    Good luck!

  3. I tell myself this: "I am doing the best I can, and my best always changes." Remember that, take a deep breath, and do what works for you. If it feels right for you and your family, then it is. Everyone has an opinion. Trust yourself. You know more than you think.

  4. I don't have much advice to give, but I did pick up on one thing Mommy, Esq. said that I fully agree with-I wouldn't worry so much about them being hungry, because that bottle can become routine/comfort rather than something they need to satisfy hunger. I'd say by this point, they are definitely not going to starve. : )

    My girls were on a regular eating schedule from day one, and once they started dropping those nighttime bottles, I tried not to offer food to get them back to sleep (instead let them soothe, use a pacifier, etc.). Thankfully, it worked for us! (However, my best friend's baby is nearly 7 months old and still waking at night to eat...so rest assured, you are not alone!!)

  5. You're not crazy, but perspective does help, doesn't it?

    My challenge is finding enough time between getting home and leaving for work for my daughters to get enough sleep. (We get home after 6:00 and leave for work at 6:30. Cook and eat dinner, bath and play, and 6:30-8:00 disappears.)

  6. Oh, ouch, CIO is indeed hard. BUT - a word of hope! We were doign exactly the same as you - running to get whoever was crying. But once we started to leave them, we found that nine times out of ten, that crying we had been RUNNING to soothe would actually stop on its own in about oooh, sixty seconds. Way less than when we responded with a feed. They did wake each other up a tiny bit for the first few days (we don't have one that is obviously a better sleeper) but now they pretty much ignore each other. Although now, they aren't really waking up so it isn't an issue... (we'll see what happens when they start to teethe!)

    If they are getting a lot of food during the night at hte moment (ours were eating almost 10 oz, 300 mL, during the night because they woke up SO often) then it might help to reduce feeding during the night gradually rather than cut it out cold turkey and give them a chance to get used to eating more during the day... (we used the method in the sleepeasy solutions book, which focused on the parent waking the child up to feed them for the first few days so they are getting milk, but never feeding them when they wake up on their own) but either way, they ain't going to starve. We still wake ours for a scehduled feed at about 10pm, but that's fine because we aren't in bed yet!

    Sorry for long comment. GOOD LUCK with however you decide to do it!!

  7. 14 hours? Heck that was one big hairy audacious goal wasn't it?! Minxy goes down for about 9 and I'm stoked with that. Last night it was 8. The kids are cute AND are doing great - oh and what works for us? Minxy's Fisher Price Aquarium - we turn it on and it's off to the Land of Nod for her. Totally rate it!!!

  8. Hi Leigh
    Jsut a couple of comments - after the baby reach about 5.5 kgs they don't need a bottle in the night anymore - metabolically speaking. Secondly, i used controlled crying with my first baby and it worked like a charm. I also used it modified with the twins - running between them and the older one sort of worked out that way. Incidentally, yours sleep a lot more than mine ever did - mine never went down before 6pm and at the moment it is 6:45pm. They sleep through though till about 6 am. Have you read Sleep Sense?? Much luck, P

  9. Anonymous9:28 pm

    as the others have already said...14 hours a night plus 4 or 5 hours sleep in the day really seems way too much sleep to expect. it's no wonder they wake up in the night! why do you put them down as early as 5.30pm? just wondering..most of my friends (me included) have babies in bed 7pm to 7am. my 2nd child is now 4 months and does 7pm to 7am with one feed at 10pm which we wake him for. then he has two naps of approx 45 mins and one of 2 hours each day e.g. total nap time of 3.5 hours roughly but often it's more like 3. if i let him nap anymore than 3.5 hours it would affect his night time sleep. i did CIO with my first child at 6 months and it worked very well but is hard work. good luck!

  10. Okay, so the other night I was up at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 with one or both babies, so I decided then and there to start sleep training. I went to the bookstore the next morning and bought Ferber's book. Controversial CIO, but he had a plan and that is what I needed.
    We started to let them CIO and stick to the progressive waiting plan and we are on day 3. I hope I am not jinxing myself, but they are already sleeping much better.
    We now put them in their cribs between 7 and 7:30 and they wake up between 6 and 7:30 with one night waking and I only nurse them for 5 minutes and they have been going back to sleep fairly easily.

    They have not cried longer than 10 minutes, although that first night it seemed like an eternity.

    Mine are napping for 1.5-2 hours in the morning and then 30 minute naps throughout out the rest of the day. I am hoping a good afternoon nap develops in the next month or so.

    Keep us posted!

  11. Do not feel alone, I am in the same boat as you and also started sleep training from sunday with one succesful night - fall asleep on their own and sleeping through but no luck as yet. Will keep you updated and good lukc. It is really hard work to get this sleeping right!


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